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Career Information for a Degree in Animal Health Sciences

Animal science is generally a 2- or 4-year degree program that prepares graduates to work as veterinary technicians or technologists. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

An animal science degree can allow one to become a veterinary technician or technologist, both of whom aid veterinarians at clinics. Bachelor's and associate's programs are offered, and clinical experience is frequently required of students. Licensure, certification, or registration may be required in certain states.

Essential Information

Degrees in animal science are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Associate's degree programs prepare graduates for careers as veterinary technicians, while graduates of bachelor's degree programs can work in more advanced positions as veterinary technologists. Both programs call for classroom work as well as extensive clinical training. Bachelor's-level students may be allowed to specialize in a particular area of study.

Career Veterinary Technician Veterinary Technologist
Education Requirements Associate's degree in animal science Bachelor's degree in animal science
Licensure and Certification Credentialing required in most states Credentialing required in most states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% 19%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $31,800 $31,800

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Animal Health Science Degree Programs

Animal health science degree programs are available at the undergraduate level as both associate's and bachelor's degree options, though bachelor's degree options may be more common. Typically, these programs are designed to prepare students to become veterinary technicians or technologists. Coursework in these programs typically focuses on fundamental concepts of veterinary technology, including anatomy and physiology, pathology, disease study and microbiology. Students may also take courses in clerical duties in and office procedures for veterinary facilities.

At the bachelor's degree level, students may have the opportunity to select a track of specialization, which could include scientific subjects like organic chemistry and neuroscience, or business subjects like accounting, finance and management. Clinical laboratory experiences are typically extensive and can train aspiring professionals in multiple settings, including those that involve radiography or surgical procedures.

Career Options

Veterinary technicians and technologists work closely with veterinarians and veterinary surgeons in clinical settings, and may perform organizational tasks in smaller practices. They may prepare and arrange surgical equipment. During procedures requiring general anesthesia, they may monitor an animal's vital signs. After surgical procedures, veterinary technicians may clean equipment, reorder supplies and advise owners on necessary precautions. Most positions require individuals to hold at least an associate's degree. They may also be required to pass a credentialing exam, such as the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. Mandatory licensure, certification or registration of veterinary technicians and technologists varies by state.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800 as of 2015. The BLS expected employment for veterinary technicians and technologists to grow by 19% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

To become a veterinary technician or technologist, one must earn an undergraduate degree in animal sciences. Programs usually provide hands-on clinical training for students to gain experience in veterinary settings. Additional credentials - including licensure - may also have to be held, depending on the state.

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